Minister: Bermuda Burden Of Illness Study

November 26, 2012

Minister of Health Zane DeSilva spoke recently regarding the conclusion of the Burden of Illness [BOI] study by the Caribbean Epidemiology Center.

The aim of this study [preliminary results are here – PDF] was to better understand the source of food and water borne infections which cause diarrhoea, otherwise known as gastroenteritis or ‘G.E’. The Bermuda Burden of Illness Study was made up of two components – a telephone survey and also a laboratory survey – and was carried out over the past 12 months.

Minister DeSilvqa said: “And of particular note, Bermuda now has local laboratory capacity to test for norovirus and typing of Salmonella. Because of this, we now know that norovirus is quite common and that Bermuda has a type of Salmonella that is rarely seen in Caribbean countries.”

Minister DeSilva’s full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Thank you for being here today at the offices of Environmental Health for the release of the preliminary results of the Bermuda Burden of Illness (BOI) Study.

Thank you in particular to Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC) representative Dr. Lisa Indar who is here with us today to discuss the preliminary results of the study and to provide recommendations for improving food-borne disease surveillance in Bermuda.

Dr Indar, along with Ms. Dy-Juan DeRoza, Assessment Officer/Epidemiologist in the Department of Health and the Bermuda BOI Coordinator, were instrumental in conducting the study and ensuring that the interview process, laboratory operations and data analysis ran smoothly.

Food-borne diseases are a major health and economic burden worldwide, including the Caribbean. Therefore, the aim of this study was to better understand the sources of food and water borne infections which cause diarrhoea, otherwise known as gastroenteritis or ‘G.E’, in Bermuda.

BOI studies have been completed in eight Caribbean countries, including Bermuda, and these studies will assist the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease Initiative to improve food safety worldwide.

The Bermuda Burden of Illness (BOI) Study was made up of two components – a population survey conducted by telephone and a laboratory survey.

The telephone surveys took place in November 2011 and February 2012.

Over 1200 phone calls were made, and 861 persons agreed to participate. I would like to thank them for their participation and also acknowledge the diligence of the interviewers.

We reiterate that this survey was conducted anonymously, and that the interviewers from the Ministry of Health displayed integrity and professionalism throughout the interview process. They all deserve recognition for their efforts.

The Laboratory Survey ran from November 2011 through to October 2012, and we would like to thank all those persons who submitted specimens during this period, the physicians who requested specimens from their patients and the laboratory staff that processed the specimens.

This study offered a unique opportunity for Bermuda to evaluate the sensitivity of its surveillance system and assess the true magnitude and burden of acute G.E.

Through enhanced sampling and testing, this study provided a better understanding of the agents responsible for food-borne disease in Bermuda.

And of particular note, Bermuda now has local laboratory capacity to test for norovirus and typing of Salmonella. Because of this, we now know that norovirus is quite common and that Bermuda has a type of Salmonella that is rarely seen in Caribbean countries.

The final results of this study will also serve to strengthen capacity in CAREC and its member countries, including Bermuda, to enhance syndromic surveillance activities, and promote integrated public health actions.

Bermuda is committed to implementing the recommendations from the study as reducing the burden of food-borne disease can only have positive effects on our tourism industry and the health of our people.

The final results of this study should be available for publication in December 2012.

So thank you once more to CAREC for providing the tools, training and funding to make this possible, to the interviewers, to the laboratory staff (particularly Ms. Susan Jatto), to the Burden of Illness Coordinators from Bermuda, Ms. Dy-Juan DeRoza, and from CAREC, Dr. Lisa Indar, and to Dr. John Cann, the previous Chief Medical Officer for recommending this study.

Thank You.

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